MSNBC/STARBUCKS DEAL: LINE BETWEEN NEWS & HAPPY TALK GETS FUZZIER
June 02, 2009
(NEW YORK, NY) -- The line between what is news and what is paid commercial talk, already blurry enough in the eyes of many journalists, is now even fuzzier.
MSNBC has put together a sponsorship deal with Starbucks that positions the Seattle based coffee chain as the “title sponsor” of the daily news program on MSNBC called “Morning Joe.”
So, just like sports teams that sell naming rights for their stadiums, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" news talk show with Joe Scarborough has been sold to a commercial interest and will henceforth be called "Morning Joe Brewed by Starbucks."
Repeat: a “news” show on MSNBC, a prime time morning news show, will be solidly embedded with the Starbucks commercial brand and name.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" news talk show airs each weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. and the Starbucks insignia will appear repeatedly on the show's logo at about the time hundreds of thousands of viewers are thinking about that first cup of coffee.
Under terms of the agreement, the Starbucks brand will be visible at various points in the show via graphic elements like billboards, banners and on-set placement.
The “on set” placement portion of the deal calls for co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to be seen drinking out of Starbucks cups.
In the “old days” of television such news show sponsorships were common place but all that went away as TV news rooms became more professional and network news divisions fought hard to be separated from anything that even appeared to be a conflict of interest or that otherwise might compromise their independence and news judgment.
Now MSNBC’s brass is trying to assure the public that nothing has changed with, what is in essence, a Starbucks brand take over of a key morning news/talk segment for the cable news operation.
MSNBC's chief executive says its new sponsorship deal with Starbucks doesn't mean the network will filter out bad news about the gourmet coffee chain.
"The world is just different," MSNBC's Phil Griffin is quoted as saying. "The rules of 10, 15, 20 years ago just don't apply. You can't live by them. You've got to be creative."
He said the new Starbucks named news show wouldn’t be afraid to talk about news the company might wish to avoid.
Starbucks has seen sales decline in recent years and has closed hundreds of stores. A small bomb outside a Starbucks in Manhattan shattered windows late last month.